By Robert Cross / AO: Portland
USA blanks Bolivia 4-0 behind a brace from Gyasi Zardes.
Zardes has been criticized for a poor first touch during his recent run of play with the NATS. Tonight he was cool and composed scoring a goal in each half as USA easily dispatched Bolivia 4-0. Zardes has been a frequent first team choice for Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and has offered a significant work rate and pace whether deployed at center forward or on the wing. The brace should help his confidence just in time for Copa America.
Alejandro Bedoya is central to the USMNT’s success at Copa America.
I have thought for some time now that the Nantes midfielder is one of our best players. Bedoya’s time in Ligue One has seen him mature as a player and a leader, and he remains one of the most versatile players in our pool. Klinsmann’s recent shift to a 433 is affording Bedoya an opportunity to play as an “8” finding pockets of space in the midfield where he may operate. He is a smart player and his recent form bodes well for our Copa America fortunes.
A makeshift backline is not tested by Bolivia.
Matt Besler and Michael Orozco were our starting fullbacks a result of Fabian Johnson regaining fitness and DeAndre Yedlin being afforded some rest. Geoff Cameron regained his CB starting role and should be slotted next to John Brooks for the tournament. Brooks scored and appears more poised after a strong seasons for Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Heading into Copa the backline may be in the best position that it has been for Klinsmann’s entire tenure with the USMNT.
Christian Pulisic nets his first goal for the NATS while combining with Darlington Nagbe.
Nagbe and Pulisic belong on the first team. They are both tidy on the ball, offering USA possession and options moving forward. It will be critical for USA to be on the ball playing against strong technical sides from South America. Klinsmann once more chose to start older veterans in their place. Look for Nagbe and Pulisic to both make their first starts for country in our second match of the tournament against Costa Rica in Chicago.
USA is poised to play well in Copa America and will advance in Group A.
I think the USMNT may surprise some people and US Soccer supporters this June. Klinsmann has a plethora of options in the midfield, a backline with no holes, several options at forward, and the promise of Nagbe and Pulisic. The key is how Klinsmann chooses to balance his veterans with our more dynamic, youthful players. I believe that we will advance from Group A and play some attractive soccer.
About the Author
Robert W. Cross is a founding member and former President of American Outlaws Portland and a lifelong football fan and supporter of both club and country.
*** Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of the American Outlaws. ***